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Archive for May 1, 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star! – New App Measures Sky Brightness


Photo: Jeremy Stanley

Photo: Jeremy Stanley

Researchers from the German “Loss of the Night” project have developed an app for Android smart phones, which counts the number of visible stars in the sky. The data from the app will be used by scientists to understand light pollution on a world wide scale.

n natural areas you can see several thousand stars with the naked eye” says Dr. Christopher Kyba, physicist at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and Freie Universität. “In Berlin, we can still see several hundred, but the situation in most large cities and world capitals is far worse.”
The smartphone app will evaluate sky brightness, also known as skyglow, on a worldwide scale. It will be an extension to the “GLOBE at Night” citizen science project, which has been running since 2006. This data can be used to map the distribution and changes in sky brightness, and will eventually allow scientists to investigate correlations with health, biodiversity, energy waste and other factors.

“Life evolved periodic changes of bright days and dark nights” says Dr. Annette Krop-Benesch of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB). “The introduction of artificial light into the atmosphere is changing ecosystems worldwide, and might even have an impact on our health. Unfortunately, we have very little information about light levels in different habitats at night.”

Full Story and App Link: http://www.fv-berlin.de/news/twinkle-twinkle-little-star-2013-new-app-measures-sky-brightness?set_language=en

NASA Invites Public To Send Names And Messages To Mars


NASA is inviting members of the public to submit their names and a personal message online for a DVD to be carried aboard a spacecraft that will study the Martian upper atmosphere.

The DVD will be in NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch in November. The DVD is part of the mission’s Going to Mars Campaign coordinated at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).

The DVD will carry every name submitted. The public also is encouraged to submit a message in the form of a three-line poem, or haiku. However, only three haikus will be selected. The deadline for all submissions is July 1. An online public vote to determine the top three messages to be placed on the DVD will begin July 15.

“The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission,” said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP.

Full Story and ‘Going To Mars’ Link: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/may/HQ_13-125_MAVEN_Name_to_Mars.html